As if the sub-prime housing crisis and the 14 trillion dollars of US debt were not enough, a new plaque is descending upon the nation. Hurricane Irene is hitting and destroying property and lives along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. It is hitting major population and business centers including Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City. According to economist Ryan Sweet, who works for Moody’s, these Metropolitan areas account for 16 % of U.S. economic output and 14 % of U.S. employment. Many work days will also be lost do to damage to businesses and transportation. However, Irene will ironically provide jobs in order to repair the damages.
Likely damage estimates vary between a conservative 4.7 billion dollars to a worst case scenario of 35 billion dollars of damages just to New York City.
According to a computer model by Roger Pielke, a member of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and a professor at the University of Colorado, and in conjunction with the ICAT Insurance company, the damage is likely to be about 4.7 billion dollars.
Alternatively, according to statistician Nathan Silver, assuming that Irene passes within 50 miles of downtown New York and is a category 2 storm, it will cause 10 billion dollars of damage just to New York City. Silver also examined the very unlikely scenario that Hurricane Irene hits New York directly with 100 mile per hour winds: the estimated damage to New York alone would be 35 billion dollars.